How to Use Dynamic & Standard Remarketing to Maximize Online Sales
Thinking about adding remarketing to your Google Ads strategy? We’ve successfully grown hundreds of brands thanks to effective ad remarketing, and we can do the same for you.
Unlocking the Power of Amazon Brand Registry
Whether you’re an established brand or you’re launching a whole new brand, building your brand presence and maintaining your brand message on Amazon should be a top priority.
Over the years, the primary focus of Amazon sellers has rapidly shifted from cranking out products and seeing what sticks to building brands with longevity. Amazon quickly followed suit with a complete range of brand-building features and programs exclusive to brand-registered sellers. But even for the most seasoned brands, many new to Amazon are still left with the question - “Where do I get started?” In this blog post, OMG’s Amazon team breaks down brand registry for you along with our favorite features:
What’s Required for Amazon Brand Registry?
You’ll just need a few things to get started:
- A Brand Registry account linked to your Seller Central account
- Your Brand Name
- The Trademark Office where your trademark is live and on the principal registry
- Your Trademark Registration Number
- Your Brand’s Website
- Images of your Products
- Business Name
- Business Address
- You will likely also be required to provide a valid passport ID or further identification
How Do I Get Brand Registered on Amazon?
Getting started with Brand Registry is simple once you have your Seller Account in place. Simply ensure you have a brand registry account set up under the same email as your seller account at brandregistry.amazon.com.
Then, once you are logged in, select “Manage” - “Enroll a brand”.
On the next page, select “Enroll your brand” and you’ll be prompted to provide your Brand info, Seller and Business information and Distribution specific info.
How Long Does It Take to Get Amazon Brand Registered?
After that, you’ll wait up to 2 weeks for approval. Once you received a notification that you’ve been approved, double check that access to all brand features are available in your Seller Central account.
In some cases, it may take up to 72 hours after approval for brand features to properly map to your account. If you find that anything is still missing after 72 hours, follow the prompts to log a case and request access through Amazon support.
Can I Get Brand Registered on Amazon without a Trademark?
The short answer is, no. Until you have a trademark fully registered on the principal registry and in the “LIVE” state, Amazon will not accept your brand registry submission. However, Amazon does have a convenient IP Accelerator program that grants you expedited access to brand features in as little as 14 days by using one of Amazon’s preferred law firms within their partner network.
For those of you who just recently filed your trademark or have yet to even file, this can save anywhere from 12-18 months of waiting for access. The only requirement with this program is that the trademark MUST be filed through an attorney participating in the IP Accelerator program. Therefore, if you’ve already filed and you want immediate access, you’ll need to refile.
How can I maximize Amazon Brand Registry?
Outside of the added control Amazon brand registry offers by enabling you to enforce trademark violations and remove unauthorized sellers, claiming your brand on Amazon also unlocks an entire suite of valuable brand-exclusive features. We’ve narrowed down our Top 5 favorite brand features to get you started:
Sponsored Brand & Sponsored Brand Video Campaigns
Take your brand awareness and defense strategy to the next level on Amazon with these two brand-exclusive ad placements.
Hone in on a selection of products with customized copy and lifestyle imagery in a Sponsored Brand campaign on top of, alongside or within shopping results. One of the most aspirational Sponsored Brand placements is prime real estate and displays at the very top of Amazon search results:
For those brands with an archive of great video assets, Sponsored Brand Video campaigns can be nested prominently within search results, on product pages and on competitor pages:
A+ Content is by far one of our favorite ways to amplify product display pages. Not only does it allow sellers to better educate customers on complex products and pull in lifestyle imagery, it also takes up a massive amount of real estate pushing competitors further down your page and away from the “Add to Cart” button.
With plenty of module options, you can leverage A+ content for improved conversion, upselling and cross-selling products and enhancing your brand defense with helpful sections like a comparison chart:
Use your Amazon Storefront to neatly organize your products for customers higher in the funnel who may be browsing. Implementing even a basic Amazon storefront has major benefits as your brand name will map directly to your brand exclusive storefront rather than search results for your brand name filled with competitors.
Use your storefront to segment product collections, highlight deals and provide additional customer education through shoppable images and videos:
As you may already know, on Amazon, reviews are king. So, when it comes to launching products on the marketplace, your initial review strategy is crucial in setting up your product for success.
Even the most established brands can struggle with obtaining those initial 5 or so reviews which sets the tone for sales velocity, ranking, conversion rate and ad performance. That’s why we love that registered brands have access to Amazon’s network of trusted Vine reviewers.
Once you are in the “Vine” dashboard, it’s as easy as entering your ASIN and selecting “Begin Enrollment”:
As of October 12, 2021, Amazon has updated fees for enrollment from free to $200 per parent ASIN. However, there is still tremendous value in launching with Vine particularly on variations with multiple child ASINs.
With the Vine program you can enroll up to a quantity of 30 units of product per parent ASIN. Eligible parent ASINs must have available FBA inventory and less than 30 total reviews on page. Based on past launches, high demand products without any ongoing, repeat complaints tend to be the best candidates for the Vine program. That being said, put your best foot (and established products) forward when testing Vine.
Brand Analytics, Amazon Attribution & Brand Metrics
While still in beta, the reporting available under Brand Analytics and Brand Insights are incredible for companies who crave data. From being able to dig deeper into “Amazon Search Terms” to breaking down your customers “Repeat Purchase Behavior” and conducting a “Market Basket Analysis”, Brand Analytics has a wealth of brand specific data that can be turned into actionable items for growth like bundling products that are frequently purchased together:
Brand Analytics also gives you direct access to “Amazon Attribution” which enables you to track sales off Amazon through trackable links. Plus, thanks to Amazon’s new “Brand Referral Bonus” program, brands using Amazon Attribution to successfully drive sales through external traffic qualify for a referral fee of up to 10% which can help offset costly FBA and advertising fees.
In addition to Brand Analytics, the newer “Brand Metrics” feature in the Advertising dashboard is another one of our favorite resources for brand data. While still a work in progress, Brand Metrics delivers a drilldown of metrics that are hyper specific to your category, something which was previously only available through advertising reps to top tier sellers.
Overall, Amazon’s Brand Registry process is straightforward and as you can see, unleashes a range of awesome features that’ll take your brand to the next level on Amazon!
How iOS 14 Impacted Google Ads in 2021
Apple took a major step in addressing privacy concerns with it’s iOS 14 update. So, what did Apple actually change to improve privacy, and how did this impact digital advertisers?
In case you are new to digital marketing; or you have been living in a cave for the past year; or maybe you’re just trying to understand what is happening with your tracking, we hope to demystify the issue with conversion tracking. Apple’s release of iOS 14 came with limited tracking visibility into Safari browser and forced iOS apps to ask permission from users for various tracking capabilities. In addition, Facebook updated its platform to allow a maximum (and default) attribution window of “7-day click-through / 1-day view-through” for tracking. (link) These two acts of self-imposed regulation launched online advertising into a new paradigm, limiting visibility into data and performance for a very significant portion of the digital marketing landscape.
If all of this sounds like “garbally gook” or “technical jargon,” we wouldn’t blame you. You might be wondering what the big deal is. Or why can’t the data nerds be left to worry about it. Why do sellers need to stay up on how big tech is rolling back conversion tracking data?
Media budgets rely on the use of data to inform digital advertising performance. For the past few years, big tech has spoiled us in our ability to track and analyze data to see where sales were coming from. Now they are limiting that visibility we once enjoyed. Those days will likely never return, at least not in the same way, whereby big tech platforms readily supply marketers with that data. Digital marketing teams will now have to take matters into their own hands, to understand the best allocation of media and marketing dollars.
This article aims to address two questions:
- How iOS updates affected Google Ads?
- What can merchants do to help interpret data in a post iOS 14.5 world?
iOS 14 — Why Did Apple Take This Step?
For most Apple users, iOS updates have historically been relatively mundane. Updates usually included security improvements, updated aesthetics, bug fixes, and so on. iOS 14 was a different story, with the updates being noticeable for users and advertisers alike.
What was different about iOS 14 as compared to previous updates? According to Apple, the goal of their iOS 14 updates was to “improve user transparency and control over how apps access your location, photos, microphone, and camera”. Through this update, Apple is addressing a chief concern that a majority of the population have been expressing - a lack of privacy in terms of their data, and who has access to that data.
How significant of any issue is privacy for the general population? According to Pew Research polls, privacy is a major concern for many Americans:
Ponder those results for a bit. A whopping 81% of Americans expressed concern about the fact that they have little to no control over the data that companies collect. Another 81% said that they felt that the risks of these companies collecting their data outweighed the benefits. 79% said that they are concerned about how the data is being used, and 59% expressed concern about their lack of knowledge in terms of how companies are using their data.
Axios polls revealed similar concerns among the population. Most poll respondents (78%) said they feel they are targeted in online ads based on their web activity. And 50% said they think they're targeted for online ads based on their offline conversations. While it is unquestionably a good thing for both users and advertisers to have ads that a user receives be more relevant to the user’s interests; most users do not like to feel like they are being watched and tracked at all times. The problem is not the ads, the problem is the lack of control of what happens with their data.
Apple took a major step in addressing these concerns with its iOS update. So, what did Apple actually change to improve privacy?
iOS 14 - The Most Significant Changes
Apple’s iOS update included several significant components centered around privacy and transparency. Let’s start with the big one.
App Tracking Transparency
App Tracking Transparency lets the user control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies' apps and websites for ads or sharing with data brokers. While the name may not ring a bell, all Apple users are likely familiar with this pop-up whenever logging into an app after iOS 14:
If you choose Ask App Not to Track, the app developer can’t access the system advertising identifier (IDFA), which is often used to track. The app is also not permitted to track your activity using other information that identifies you or your device, like your email address.
As you can imagine, many users are now opting to not share their data. According to data from Flurry Analytics, the overwhelming majority of US users chose to not share their data with apps - with opt-in rates as low as 6%. This shook up advertising in a very significant way, across Google and Facebook alike - causing significant declines in performance from advertising. Why was this the case? Advertising platforms build “segments” of users based on their behavior across the web. If a user were to engage with apps about dogs; visit websites about dogs; and watch videos online about how to train their dog - the advertising platform can be reasonably certain that that user would fit nicely into the “Dog Lovers” or “Dog Owners” audience. Now, let’s say that the advertising platform can only see 4% of those web/app interactions. The amount of confidence that it now has that the user fits into the “Dog Owner” audience is quite a bit lower, meaning advertisers aren’t able to serve their ads to the most relevant audience.
App privacy details on the App Store
In the App Store, on each app’s product page, users can learn about some of the data types the app may collect, and whether that data is linked to them or used to track them.
This enhanced transparency gives the user greater confidence, and addresses the concern from the poll mentioned earlier in this article, “59% expressed concern about their lack of knowledge in terms of how companies are using their data”. Users now have more knowledge about the types of data an app wants to track, which informs their decision to not only download the app, but to opt-in or to not opt-in to tracking.
Additional Privacy Controls
In addition to the above shakeups to privacy and transparency, Apple has also made some of the following updates:
- A recording indicator is now displayed whenever an app has access to the microphone or camera - addressing the concern of “50% said they think they're targeted for online ads based on their offline conversations” - whether this was truly happening or not.
- Approximate location can now be shared with an app, rather than sharing your precise location
- Limited Photos library access gives you the option to share only selected photos with an app whenever an app asks for access
- App and web developers can now offer the option for you to upgrade your existing accounts to Sign in with Apple
iOS 14 — What Was The Impact on Google Ads?
Impact on Reporting
If a user doesn’t want to offer their activity and behavior information to an app (we will use Duolingo, the language-learning app, as an example), they will opt-out of tracking which, as we saw earlier in this article, is the vast majority of users. Let’s say that the user rejected tracking, continued into the app to polish up their Spanish skills, clicked on an ad that they received after their lesson, and then proceeded to buy the product. Because they rejected tracking in the first place, the conversion event isn’t linked back to the campaign that served the ad. As a result, your campaign’s performance will not look as good as it could, not because it is seeing poor performance, but because conversions are not being properly attributed to the campaign. A campaign that previously would have gotten 10 conversions per week may then see this decline to 3 or 4, depending on the opt-in rate for tracking. This leads to the issue of optimizing campaigns on incomplete data. A Google advertiser might end up pausing or reducing the budget of a campaign that is performing really well in actuality because they aren’t seeing over half of the conversion events that came through.
As a result of the problem of “missing data” - the use of third-party tracking tools grew in importance as a means of “triangulating” the advertising data. Relying solely on Google Ads for performance reporting is no longer as reliable as it previously was, so we encourage businesses to explore 3rd party tracking tools such as Northbeam, Glew, Wicked Reports or Rockerbox.
Impact on Performance
For the most part, Search Campaigns seemed to be unaffected by the iOS 14 update. This makes sense, as these campaigns target keywords, rather than a user based on their interests and affinities. At OMG Commerce, we saw Search Campaigns see the same conversion rates after iOS 14 as they did before iOS 14.
Shopping Campaigns saw more significant decreases in performance, in part due to their ability to show on the Display Network (seen below). Due to more limited tracking, the ability for Shopping Ads to perform well on the Display Network declined, with conversion rates declining by 30% on those platforms for Standard Shopping campaigns. Conversion rates for Shopping campaigns that showed in Google Search remained unchanged.
Display and Discovery campaigns seemed to be relatively unaffected, for most of our accounts - due to proactive planning and adjustments along the way to maximize performance. YouTube campaigns saw decreased performance for Top of Funnel targeting, while Remarketing saw similar performance pre and post iOS 14.
iOS 14 and Beyond - Solutions for Businesses
While Google Ads saw some slight hiccups as a result of the iOS 14 update, Google seems to have emerged relatively unscathed, unlike platforms such as Facebook.
If you are looking to get started with Google Ads, Search Campaigns and Shopping campaigns limited to the Search Network (excluding Display Network and YouTube from your campaign settings) should perform just as well as they always have. Display, Discovery, and YouTube remarketing campaigns continue to perform well, while Top of Funnel campaigns may see mixed performance, depending on your audience and the type of targeting you are looking to utilize.
We strongly encourage you to consider utilizing a third-party tracking platform to ensure that each advertising channel is getting the credit that it deserves (not too much, and not too little). We see these tools as one added set of information, to be used alongside Google Analytics and in platform data (the data in your Google Ads or Facebook account). Through triangulation of the data found in these tools, a merchant can begin to analyze performance. And can make an informed decision on where to shift media and marketing dollars. As of the writing of this article, our recommendation is Northbeam.io and Glew, due to its user-friendly interface and accurate reporting, which our clients have been very pleased with to this point.
Additionally, the change in availability of third-party data due to iOS 14 means that it is more important than ever to have strong first-party data. We suggest that businesses gather as much data as possible through social media, their websites, email campaigns, surveys, and more. As you gather first-party data, you can use this to construct Similar-To Audiences and Customer Lists.
All of these updates can be daunting for any business owner. OMG Commerce was able to navigate through iOS 14 without significant decreases in performance due to an emphasis on planning, communication, and constant improvement. To learn how OMG Commerce can help your business navigate through the current environment, click “Let’s Talk!” in our navigation. Good luck in 2022!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not represent OMG Commerce as a whole.
How to Use Dynamic & Standard Remarketing to Maximize Online Sales
Thinking about adding remarketing to your Google Ads strategy? We’ve successfully grown hundreds of brands thanks to effective ad remarketing, and we can do the same for you.
About the Google Display Network & Remarketing
The Google Display Network has the largest reach of any display network in the world. Approximately 90% of global internet users are reached by Google’s Display Network, including 94% of all US internet users. Of these users, 64% are reached every day. Remarketing on the Google Display Network is a crucial pillar for any digital marketing strategy, allowing you to reach your previous website visitors virtually wherever they go on the internet. In this article, we will be exploring two types of Google Display remarketing types, dynamic remarketing and standard remarketing.
What is Standard Remarketing?
Standard remarketing allows a brand to show static or responsive display ads to past visitors of your website as they browse websites and apps on the Display Network. These ads feature headlines, descriptions and images - hand selected by the advertiser to deliver a particular message to the advertiser’s remarketing audience.
What is Dynamic Remarketing?
Dynamic remarketing is a form of remarketing that allows you to show ads to past visitors of any products or services that they viewed on your site. Unlike standard remarketing, the advertiser does not select which images, headlines, or descriptions will be displayed to the user as the ad is automatically tailored to the individual user’s behavior on the website.
When Should You Use Standard Remarketing?
Standard remarketing is likely the form of remarketing that most brands are familiar with when it comes to Google Ads. For standard remarketing, you start by sorting website visitors into lists based on their activity on your website. For example, common ways you could sort your website visitors could include:
- All Website Visitors - Any and all website visitors, this is your largest possible remarketing list.
- Product Page Viewers - Visitors who navigated to your website’s product pages to learn more about a particular product.
- All Purchasers - Visitors who purchased a product from your website.
- Product X Purchasers - Visitors who purchased a specific product from your website.
- Cart Abandoners - Visitors who added an item to their cart, but did not complete their purchase.
These different types of audiences have varying levels of intent. For example, a cart abandoner is much closer to purchasing your product than someone who simply visited your website and did not take any action. The way that we will deliver our ads to these users will also need to vary. This is where standard remarketing is beneficial. Standard remarketing ads allow advertisers to craft their messaging to fit a user’s level of purchase intent at the time.
If your goal is to build brand awareness and long-term consideration, you might show ads to people who have visited any of your pages, highlighting your brand’s differentiating factors or the problem that your products help solve. This form of remarketing can be useful in keeping your brand in people’s minds so that when they eventually decide to make a purchase for products like yours, your brand will be at the top of their minds.
On the other hand, perhaps your goal with your remarketing campaign is to drive efficient conversions. In this situation, you could target users who previously purchased one of your products such as deodorant or body wash, and deliver them an ad about one of your products that they have not purchased yet, such as sunscreen.
Brand loyalty is a strong force, and targeting those who already love your brand is a great place to start when looking to drive conversions at a low cost-per-acquisition.
Maybe you have just launched a new product and you want to make sure that everyone who has previously purchased from your brand is aware, so that they can check it out and make a purchase if interested. In this case, you could craft your messaging to this situation as seen below:
Well-timed targeting and messaging tailored to where the user is in their purchase journey are the primary reasons why standard remarketing should be utilized for any business.
When Should You Use Dynamic Remarketing?
When users research products or services on your site, but leave without converting, you can use Dynamic Remarketing to show the products that they indicated interest in to them as they visit other sites on the Google Display Network. These types of ads allow you to tap into a recent interest, or reawaken an older interest, and drive conversions for users actively showing interest in your products.
Creating dynamic remarketing ads requires a product feed in Google Merchant Center. Once you create a basic .csv, .tsv, .xls, or .xlsx feed, simply connect the feed to your Display Remarketing campaign in the campaign’s settings:
From there, the Google Ads product recommendation engine will pull those products from your feed, determining the best mix of products for each ad based on popularity and what the visitor viewed on your site. Google Ads then predicts which dynamic ad layout is likely to perform best for the person, placement, and platform where the ad will show.
We have seen Dynamic Display Ads work best for brands who have a wide variety of products, and multiple variations of those products. If your brand only sells 1-3 products, then Dynamic Remarketing may not be too beneficial. However, if your brand sells more than 10 product variants, then the ability to serve ads that feature the specific products a user showed interest in becomes incredibly powerful.
Some of the potential downsides of dynamic remarketing ads include:
- Less Control Over Creative - While advertisers can control which products will be allowed to show on dynamic remarketing ads; the order and layout in which they will display is entirely in the hands of Google.
- They Don’t Provide Much of a Message - As you can see from some of the above examples, there is not much in the form of messaging when it comes to dynamic display ads. If you want to deliver a specific message to a specific type of audience, then dynamic display ads may not be the best option.
- As a Result, They Are Less Effective for Branding Campaigns - If your goal is generating general brand awareness and consideration, then you will likely want more control over your creative and messaging.
Using Both Standard and Dynamic Remarketing To Maximize Sales
As discussed above, there are particular scenarios where standard remarketing may be better for a brand than dynamic remarketing, and vice-versa. However, for most ecommerce brands, utilizing both dynamic and standard remarketing is necessary to fully maximize your ability to recapture, upsell, cross-sell and drive consideration from your website visitors.
When it comes to users who viewed your website’s product pages or service pages, we recommend utilizing dynamic remarketing to re-engage the user with the products that they are most likely to engage with, based on their previous behavior. When it comes to delivering a specific message, building awareness, or highlighting a particular product, we recommend utilizing standard remarketing (responsive display ads and stto have greater control over your creative and messaging - so as to ensure that you are reaching the right user, at the right time, with the right message.
Thinking about adding remarketing to your Google Ads strategy? We’ve successfully grown hundreds of brands thanks to effective ad remarketing, and we can do the same for you. Request a free strategy session today!
How To Crush It On Amazon - Packaging, Prep & Labeling for Amazon FBA
The only thing more frustrating than going down the Seller Support rabbit hole is learning you’ve wracked up costly fees and created countless delays due to a packaging mistake.
Packaging, Prep & Labeling Requirements for Amazon FBA
Before you start selling on Amazon, you’ll need to get your products packaged and ready to go. Having a strategy in place for packaging, prep, and labeling is critical to your success on Amazon. Poor packaging can result in a range of negative consequences including bad reviews, lost inventory, and even blocked shipments. Here’s what you need to know:
- Amazon stipulates that any product sent to a fulfillment center with packaging that is inadequate or non-compliant may be refused, returned, or repackaged at your expense.
- All parts and pieces sold as an individual unit must be contained within a single, secure package, including items sold as sets.
- Units that are contained in non-secure packaging, such as loose sleeves or pouches, must also be bagged or secured with a non-adhesive band or removable tape.
- Boxed packages must be six-sided.
- The opening or lid of a box must not easily open on its own. Tape, glue, or staples must be used to keep it closed if it opens easily.
- Boxes must be able to withstand medium pressure applied to any of its sides.
- Boxes with perforated sides or openings must be able to withstand a 3-foot drop test (one drop on each side and one drop on a corner).
- Boxes that do not withstand the drop test have to also be enclosed in a poly bag with a suffocation warning
- Over-boxing may be required for certain products with safety concerns in regards to shipping or handling.
- The practice of over-boxing requires placing a product that is prepared or packaged in a box for additional protection, regardless of whether or not that item is already boxed.
- Double-wall corrugated boxes should be used for over-boxing on products over 10 lb.
- The following items are subject to over-boxing requirements:
- Sharp items that can puncture packaging.
- Fragile items with bubble wrap applied that couldn’t withstand the 3-foot drop test.
- Items that could be easily damaged during shipping or handling.
- Glass containers that exceed 4.2 oz and carry hazardous liquids.
- Vinyl records.
Use of Hangers
- Most normal-size hangers must be removed from apparel.
- Mini-hangers used for packaging such as those for baby clothes are allowed.
- Accessories, Bras, Hats, Shorts, Sock, Hosiery, Sweaters, Swimwear, and Underwear are prohibited from the use of any type of hanger.
- The following items are exceptions and must remain on a hanger:
- Blazers, Suit Jackets, and Suits.
- Dresses with a list price exceeding $299.99 per unit.
- Formal or evening wear or garments that contain materials that could be damaged when laid flat (garments with intricate beading, sequins, or other detailing).
- Outerwear with a list price exceeding $299.99 per unit.
- Items whose primary material is real leather, real fur or wool.
- Pants, shirts, skirts, and sleepwear with a list price exceeding $299.99 per unit.
- All products within a box are required to have matching SKUs and conditions and must have been packaged by the manufacturer.
- All boxes in a case that contain the same product must have equal quantities of a product in each box (ex: All 2 Packs must contain 2).
- Alternatively, Individual Products that are not case-packed may contain various products with differing quantities and conditions.
- Cases are subject to a case pack limit of 150 units per case.
- When receiving a case, the fulfillment center only scans one unit in each case.
- If manufacturers pack excess units into a larger box, this cannot be shipped as a case. Products must be separated and repacked at the appropriate case-pack level.
- Scannable barcodes from the case must be removed or covered. Only the individual units within the case may have scannable barcodes.
- To ensure the safety of customers and prevent serious injury, use safety knives and covered blades during the packing process to prevent sharp objects from accidentally being left in packaging.
- Amazon warns that inventory shipped to a fulfillment center that is not properly prepped and labeled may incur additional preparation fees.
- When products fall under multiple categories, they must be prepped to meet the conditions of all categories.
- Theft-prevention devices are prohibited and must not be attached to products.
- All FNSKUs must be unique and correspond to one unique product. Variations must all be assigned their own unique FNSKU.
Prepping Products in Sets
- Loose items sold in a set must be marked as a set on the packaging. The unit should indicate that the product is sold as a set.
- Items in a set should not only be marked as a set but also combined and sealed in order to prevent loose items from being separated.
- If a set contains items that have their own unique ASINs assigned to them, the set should still have it’s own unique ASIN assigned to it.
- Any ASINs on individual items within a set should not be outwardly visible and will need to be covered.
Prepping with Poly Bags
- When using poly bags, a suffocation warning must either be printed on the bag or attached as a label if the bag has a 5-inch opening or larger (measured flat). Failure to apply this warning may lead to rebagging.
- The warning should be prominently printed or placed in a legible font size suitable to the size of the bag. Amazon’s size requirement are as follows:
Total length plus width of bag Minimum print size
60 inches or more 24 point
40 to 59 inches 18 point
30 to 39 inches 14 point
Less than 29 inches 10 point
- The bag must be at least 1.5 mil thick.
- The poly bag must also be transparent.
- A scannable barcode (UPC, EAN, etc) or X00-label must either be scannable through the bag or have an X00- or ASIN label on the outside of the bag.
- Bags must be completely sealed.
- Poly bags or shrink wrap must not protrude more than 3 inches past the dimensions of the product.
- Black, opaque poly bagging or shrink wrap must be used on adult products.
- Products with strong scents (candles, incense, etc) must be sealed or bagged to prevent the scent from absorbing into other products.
Prepping with Bubble Wrap
- When using bubble wrap, products must be tightly wrapped and taped closed so that product doesn’t come loose.
- Products must have scannable barcodes on the outside.
- Packaging must be able to withstand a 3-foot drop test on a hard surface without contents breaking or becoming damaged.
- The drop test will include 5 drops: Flat on the base and top, Flat on the longest and shortest sides and on a corner.
- Bubble wrap may be required for fragile products that can be easily damaged during transit or heavy or dense products that can damage other products during transit.
Prepping Products with Expiration Dates
- If products have expiration dates, additional prepwork may be required such as poly-bagging or bubble-wrapping.
- Expiration dates must be accessible and labeled on the outside of the product prep or packaging.
- The required formats for expiration dates are MM-DD-YYYY or MM-YYYY. Products using any other format of expiration date are subject to stickers being applied with the correct format covering the original expiration label.
- Expiration dates must be displayed on the outer box in 36-point or larger font on individual units.
- Using only lot numbers is not sufficient for expiration date requirements.
- Products with expiration dates may require additional prep, such as poly bags or bubble wrap.
- Expiration dates must be accessible during check-in and labeled on the outside of any prep or packaging.
- Perishable items are prohibited.
Prepping Products with Tape
- Extra tape may be required for items that need boxes or poly bags sealed or bubble wrap secured around them.
- Some instances that may require extra tape are the following:
--Product may slip out of packaging if the container is not taped close.
--Product may leak if the lid is not secured with tape.
--Container is not fully sealed.
- The exterior of each unit must be equipped with a scannable barcode or label. This must include both the scannable barcode and the corresponding numbers associated with that barcode.
- Any existing scannable barcodes on the outside of shipping boxes must be removed, covered, or rendered unscannable. Using opaque tape or a black felt-tip marker are acceptable methods for rendering the barcode unscannable.
- Not labeling boxes with the required FBA box ID label can result in all future shipments being blocked, as well as a manual processing fee.
- Labels must be able to be scanned quickly and easily at fulfillment centers otherwise you may encounter delays in your inventory being received.
Best Practices for Printing Labels
- Printable labels in Seller Central are optimized for thermal printers. However, you may also use laser printers.
- Inkjet printers should not be used to print labels.
- To prevent scaling, your printer’s scaling settings should either be set to “None” or 100%.
- Ensure you are using the correct label stock for your printer.
- Opt for a printer with a 300 DPI resolution or better.
- Ensure the printer head is tested, cleaned, and replaced as needed.
- Testing your barcodes occasionally by scanning them can help ensure quality.
- Amazon barcodes are required to be printed in black and white on non-reflective labels with removable adhesive.
- Label dimensions must fall within 1 x 2 inches and 2 x 3 inches.
Product Labeling Guidelines
You can use one of three types of barcodes:
- Manufacturer Barcodes (UPC or EAN)
- Amazon Barcodes (FNSKU)
- Transparency Labels
Additionally, you have 3 options for labeling your products:
- Use existing manufacturer barcodes (UPC or EAN) for eligible products.
- Apply Amazon barcodes on prep or packaging.
- Have Amazon’s FBA Label Service apply them for you at a cost of $0.30 per item.
When printing barcodes, ensure they include all of the following:
- There must be sufficient white space around the Amazon barcode and text (Include margins of 0.25 inches on sides and 0.125 inches on the top and bottom).
- ASIN or FNSKU
- Product name
- Item condition
When placing your barcode, make sure you do the following:
- Place the correct barcode on every item.
- Cover any visible barcodes except serial numbers or transparency authentication codes.
- Place barcodes on the outermost layer of prep or packaging.
- Don’t place barcodes on a curve or corner of packages.
- Every item in a case pack must have an Amazon barcode.
- Allow for a margin of 0.25 inches between the label’s edge and the packaging’s edge.
Box & Pallet Labeling Guidelines
- Any box or pallet sent to an Amazon fulfillment center, must be identified with a unique box ID and pallet label.
- Amazon recommends printing the full set of labels. Since they are unique, it’s important not to photocopy, reuse, or modify labels.
- Labels support a measurement of 3 ⅓ x 4 inches. With thermal printers, the option is available to print directly on a 4 x 6 inch format by selecting thermal paper in the printing options.
- Labels should not be placed on seams or openings to avoid damage when the box opens.
- Both FBA box ID labels and mail carrier labels should be placed on a flat surface of the box, not folded over edges.
- Both labels must be uncovered, scannable and readable.
- The FBA box ID label should be printed directly from your shipment workflow.
- Each pallet requires four labels, one on the top center of each side.
- When shipping multiple case packs in a larger box, apply the FBA box ID to the larger box only. It is not necessary to label all individual case packs.
- Marketing materials are prohibited, including pre-priced labels, pamphlets, price tags, or other non-Amazon labels.
Additional Category-Specific Resources
Use the following Seller Central resources for additional, up-to-date information on category-specific regulations for Packaging, Prep & Labeling:
Now that you know the basics of preparing your products for FBA, you’re ready to get your first shipment in!
3 Ways To Power Through From Uncertainty to Certainty
Do you feel it? It’s in the air. That feeling of uncertainty. You might find my process helpful. It’s simple — Rise, Eat, Pray, Read, Meditate, Pray. Power Through.
Do you feel it?
It’s in the air. That feeling of uncertainty. When you consider the enormous supply chain disruptions that include seemingly daily announcements of container ships stacking up along the pacific coast, inflationary pressures, political strife, and the massive impacts of iOS 14, the air is thick with uncertainty.
Is it all doom and gloom?
I recently addressed the Founders Mastery group on this topic at a fantastic location above Huntsville, Alabama.
The interesting thing about uncertainty is this — it’s always with us. Let’s take a quick peek back at 2020. The Covid-19 Pandemic, 2020 Election, George Floyd, and related events (remember Seattle? Defund the police?). These created enormous levels of uncertainty. You might be thinking that we haven’t always had such high levels of uncertainty. Take a quick peek back to 2015. We had Isis, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the Google Rankbrain update. I recall those causing a hand wringing level of uncertainty.
Uncertainty for entrepreneurs creates opportunities.
Take the supply chain for instance. I knew these disruptions would spur creative entrepreneurs to take action. In just the past 30 days, I’ve been invited to invest in a new supply chain, a logistics SaaS, two United States based manufacturing opportunities, and a distribution play that will allow the fading drop shipping industry, for one, to regain its relevance.
How can we thrive in periods of uncertainty? We combat it by having an opposite mindset. I fondly remember the Seinfeld season 5, episode 22, “The Opposite.” It’s a humorous example, and it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. It’s an excellent example of how a shift in mindset can bring about positive change.
I’m not recommending doing the opposite of what you think you should do every single time, but what I recommend is shifting your mindset from uncertainty to certainty.
What is certainty?
For clarity, it’s essential to define the type of certainty we’re considering. What I’m not advocating is a certainty mindset that excludes questioning, facts, and reasoning. Ellen Langer, a Yale professor dubbed the “mother of mindfulness,” states, “Certainty is a cruel mindset, and it hardens our minds against possibility.”
Certainty for our purposes is an emotion or a driver. I like how the Tony Robbins blog puts it, “Certainty is the emotion that allows us to accomplish what once seemed impossible. Our capacity to achieve, lead and serve is expanded by it, and it is a resource we can access in a moment. If you want to separate yourself from the bottom 80% of entrepreneurs and achievers, then begin by bringing ample amounts of certainty to your clients, team, and even your family.” Another way to explain it is, “Certainty doesn’t mean that you know what to do. Certainty means that you know you’re going to figure things out.”
3 ways to bring more certainty to your endeavors and challenges.
- Trust Your Gut Instincts
For me, uncertainty breeds that gut feeling. I’m a huge proponent of trusting your gut instincts. I can look back at multiple gut feelings that were acted upon and led to enormous breakthroughs. I can also look back at gut feelings that weren’t acted upon that left my companies playing catch up. Of course there have been those gut feelings that utterly failed when put into practice, but in my experience, they’re in the minority.
- Don’t Go It Alone
Ever heard that being an entrepreneur is lonely? I’ve definitely felt lonely as an entrepreneur. How about you? A Google search shows nearly nine million results for the keyword phrase “lonely entrepreneur.”
My eCommerce agency, OMG Commerce, now has 50 team members. Most are in our Springfield, Missouri office, and the rest of the team is spread from coast to coast. Every day I’m in the office, I can have multiple in-person conversations, yet loneliness is still a factor in my entrepreneurial journey. How can that be?
One of the reasons might be that people don't understand what it is like to run a business. You might (like me) have a CEO or COO (in my case, both). Still, the pressures of the company and the sense of responsibility for your growing team can be substantial. Your team sacrifices much for your business. At the same time, they are marrying, having babies, and buying homes. It can wear on you as you navigate the inevitable ups and downs of client relationships, finances, and changes that are outside your control (iOS-14). Most people don't understand how an entrepreneur’s brain is wired. Those are the times when you’re not understood. How you think, how you feel, and the things you do puzzle those around you. The result can be a lonely place.
Don’t go it alone. Communicate your challenges, fears, and uncertainties to trusted friends, fellow entrepreneurs, and advisors. Be highly cautious in how you share the above with your team. You might find it cathartic, but remember they’re not the entrepreneur and may not receive the information as you intended it.
Don’t go it alone. Attend events, masterminds (even virtually) to regularly put yourself around fellow business owners. Your stories are not unique. If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you’ve inevitably experienced similar if not the exact circumstances as others. When you put yourself physically in front of others who have shared your journey, suddenly loneliness evaporates, and you can gain that sense of certainty that boldly proclaims, “I GOT THIS!”
This is a habit that I’m endeavoring to improve. Reading books on leadership, brand building, entrepreneurship, spirituality, and biographies of amazing people can spur your thinking, inspire your creativity, and equip you with the tools needed to navigate your latest (and next) set of challenges.
I’m currently reading “Never Lose a Customer Again,” by Joey Coleman. On deck is “This Is Marketing,” by Seth Godin, and “Dare to Lead,” by Brené Brown. One habit that pairs well with reading is morning meditation, and it’s something I’ve recently hit the reset on. That practice evaporated on me during Covid and impacted my spirit and overall sense of well-being.
You might find my process helpful. It’s simple — Rise, Eat, Pray, Read, Meditate, Pray. Power Through. Rise early enough not to feel hurried. Eat to get your body and mind moving. Pray a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude for your blessings. Read to inspire and recharge. My reading during that time happens to be from the Bible. I read a short chapter, meditate on the meaning, and think about how it might apply to my life. Pray once more based on what you felt or experienced during your time of meditation. You’ll find you’ll “Power Through” your day with this practice.
Let me know how you’re dealing with uncertainty or your practices to bring more certainty to your entrepreneurial journey. Be well.
FBA vs. FBM: Choosing Your Amazon Fulfillment Method
On Amazon, the bottom line is that fulfillment matters! That’s why carefully selecting the right method for your business is one of the first major steps in getting started.
When it comes to Amazon, choosing your fulfillment method can make or break your brand. Everything from profitability, customer satisfaction and product availability on Amazon are affected by fulfillment. To help you get your fulfillment strategy in place, we’ve compiled this resource with everything you’ll need to know about your options.
Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) Fulfillment
FBA is the most common method of fulfillment on Amazon in which Sellers ship in FBA inventory directly to Amazon. Amazon then handles everything from customer fulfillment to storage to customer service and returns. Here are some reasons why you may want to consider FBA:
- If your products are not oversized or shipping costs are more efficient than what you can negotiate on your own for 2-day shipping, FBA might be for you.
- If you are unable to manage fulfillment on your own and offer fast shipping.
- If you want to handle customer service and returns on your own due to the nature of your product.
- If you have a good handle on your flow of inventory with products consistently selling through available volume.
- If you have the bandwidth and resources in place to store and pick & pack inventory.
- If you are not concerned with the amount of time it takes to ship in inventory before starting.
- If you have a resource who can carefully oversee inventory and handle replenishments.
Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) Fulfillment
FBM is not as widely used on its own as FBA, but is a solid alternative that gives companies flexibility which have certain business needs. When merchants fulfill Amazon orders themselves, they are accountable for picking, packing, storing, shipping, providing tracking, and handling customer service and returns. If your business falls within the following criteria, FBM may be a good fit for you:
- If your products are oversized and will not be profitable using FBA fulfillment.
- If your distribution center is centrally located and can offer fast, 2-day (or faster) shipping.
- If you prefer to handle your customer service and returns in house.
- If your products do not sell consistently or you aren’t certain how a product will perform.
- If you have the bandwidth and resources to store and pick & pack inventory.
- If you want to start selling immediately and would prefer not to wait to ship in FBA inventory.
- If you have a resource that can oversee all Amazon order fulfillment and tracking.
FBA & FBM Hybrid Fulfillment
The second most popular method is actually a hybrid of both fulfillment options offering companies the most flexibility. This is ideal for companies who have a mix of the above-mentioned specifications or find themselves falling within the following categories:
- If your product costs are similar regardless of whether you fulfill via FBA or FBM.
- If some of your products are proven best sellers on Amazon with steady sales while other products do smaller, less consistent volume.
- If you are encountering issues with FBA inventory limits and can’t keep items in stock.
- If products are running out of stock, FBM can be used as a backup offer to take over buybox whenever FBA runs out and ensure you never go out of stock.
- If you have inventory on hand and can handle fulfillment, but prefer to open up bandwidth by moving best sellers to FBA.
When determining your fulfillment strategy there is a lot to consider, but one of the key drivers that plays a role in all three of the primary methods is profitability. For a quick and easy assessment of your potential FBA fees, try using Amazon’s FBA Calculator to better gauge which group your products fall within.
How To Crush It On Amazon - Getting Started
The hardest part of any big venture is getting started and, we’ll admit, Amazon can definitely be intimidating. We’ve put together this detailed guide to help you!
The hardest part of any big venture is getting started and, we’ll admit, Amazon can definitely be intimidating. That’s why we’ve put together this detailed guide to help you navigate the initial account setup process to ensure you don’t miss anything along the way!
What You'll Need
Before you get started, you’ll need a handful of info in order to successfully open your Professional Seller account. Make sure you have the following information handy and available.
- Tax ID
- State Tax ID
- A Copy of Your Driver’s License or Passport
- Legal Business Name
- Contact Name
- Email Address
- Phone Number
- Credit Card
- Payment Info (Business Account Info & Routing Number)
It’s important to note that you use a business entity, credit card and tax IDs that have never been used to open an account. Though Amazon now permits more than one seller account for separate business entities, don’t create complications for yourself by trying to create an account with a business that has been used in the past.
Also, in terms of your credit card, consider using a payment method that has a strong rewards program as you will wrack up a lot of valuable points as your brand scales.
Things to Consider
In addition to the basic information you’ll need to get started, you’ll also need to have a gameplan for your basic Amazon operational procedures before you start selling. Here are the top things to ask and discuss before you get started.
- Do you have a dedicated person who can handle customer service inquiries?
- Are there any common concerns with your products that your customer service rep should be aware of?
- How will you handle dissatisfied customers? Will you offer a complimentary product or refund through the “Customer Reviews” tool?
- Will your CS rep be able to meet Amazon’s 24-hour response time expectation, including on weekends?
- Have you checked Amazon’s Restricted Categories to ensure that you will be able to list your product once you open your account?
- If your product does fall into one of these categories, are you prepared to apply to sell in the category and provide the necessary documentation?
- Do you plan to use Fulfillment By Amazon, Fulfillment By Merchant, or Both?
- If FBA, do you have a point person who can oversee inventory and handle FBA replenishment?
- If FBM, have you negotiated best rates with your carrier and can you accomplish fast shipping (preferably 2 days or less) from your location?
- If you plan to use FBM, where do you intend to have customers return products?
- Do you have a strategy in place for gathering initial reviews?
- How do you plan to address negative feedback?
How to Set Up Your Account
After you have had a chance to gather the necessary information and get some basic operational plans in place, you’ll need to get your account set up. To do this visit Amazon and click “Sign Up”.
Next, click “Create Your Amazon Account”.
Enter your Name, Email Address, Password, and click “Next”.
Enter the OTP sent to your email address and click “Create your Amazon account”.
Select your Business Location and Business Type. Enter your Business Name, check next to the confirmation, and click “Agree and continue”.
On the following page, enter your Business Registration Number, Business Address, Phone Number, and Primary Contact Person. After validating your Phone Number, click “Next”.
Enter all required information for beneficial owners of the store and click “Save”.
Next, you will need to enter your payment information. Click “I Understand” to proceed.
Enter your Financial Institution Name, Routing Number, Account number, and click “Verify Bank Account”.
Enter your Credit Card Number, Expiration Date, Cardholder’s Name, and click “Next”.
Enter the necessary Store information and click “Next”.
Complete the Identity Verification and click “Submit”.
You will then be prompted to set up a Video Verification Call and Address Verification to complete the process. After you have completed the verifications, you will be able to access your account.
How To Optimize Standard Shopping Campaigns in 3 Easy Steps
OMG Commerce’s Matt Slaymaker lays out three easy ways that any business can improve their Google Shopping results and how you can start doing this today.
So you just launched your first standard shopping campaign. Congratulations, you’re well on your way to dominating the Google Shopping results!
However, if you’re not careful - you can either find yourself in a situation where you are showing up for too many searches that you do not want to show up for, or not showing up enough for the searches that would be very relevant for your business. In this article, we are going to talk about three easy ways that any business can improve their standard Shopping results and how you can do this today.
Use Negative Keywords to Reduce Wasted Spend
One of the most significant advantages of Google Standard Shopping Campaigns over Google Smart Shopping Campaigns is the fact that Standard Shopping Campaigns allow advertisers to view the search terms report, giving us insight into the searches that triggered our shopping ads to show. In this report, you will find many searches that are relevant for our business, but likely many that you would never want to show Shopping Ads for. Let’s look at how we can add negative keywords to reduce waste.
When you look at the search term report (found in the Keywords section of Google Ads), sort your columns by either clicks or cost to see if the most common terms that are triggering your ads to show. Let’s say that one of these keywords stands out as something you would like to exclude. First, click the checkbox next to the keyword that is not relevant for your business; at the top of the page, you will see a section that says add as a negative keyword, click this option, and then you will be prompted to either add the keyword as a negative for an ad group, A campaign, or a negative keyword list.
Where should you add your negative keyword? It depends. Here are some examples of wind to do each of these situations.
Ad Group Negative Keywords: Let’s say that you are a barbecue company that sells seasonings for meat. One of your shopping campaigns is focused on your spicy barbecue rubs, with ad groups broken out by flavor: one ad group containing your jalapeño rub, one ad group containing your habanero flavor, and your other ad group containing your mild spice. In this situation, our goal would be to ensure that jalapeño searches only appear for the jalapeño rub, that habanero searches only appear for the habanero rub, and so forth. The more relevant that our shopping listing is for the user’s search, the more likely they are to click on our shopping at and ultimately convert. We wouldn’t want someone searching for “jalapeno bbq rubs” to get one of our ads about habanero bbq rubs, as they are less likely to click on this product than our jalapeno bbq rub.
Campaign Negative Keywords: At the campaign level, let’s use the same example of a barbecue company that sells not only rubs, but sauces as well. In one campaign they house all of their BBQ rubs, and in another campaign, they house all of their barbecue sauces. In this situation, we would want to add barbecue rubs and seasonings as negative keywords for the sauce groups and vice versa. This is due to the same logic as the ad group level negatives, but looking at product categories rather than product variations within a category. If someone searches for “bbq sauce”, we want to ensure that the only ads of ours they will see are our bbq sauces, not any of our rubs/seasonings.
Negative Keyword Lists: When it comes to the negative keyword list, there are many types of lists that you can create. Typically we will create at least two major types of lists: An “out of scope” negative keyword list, which contains keywords that we never want to show for due to a lack of relevance; and a “ brand protection” negative keyword list, which contains any keywords that we do not want our brand associated with due to branding or legal concerns. Your “out-of-scope negative keyword list” is most typically what you will use, and is something that you can apply to all of your campaigns. This is particularly useful for making bulk additions of negative keywords.
For this, we will use a different example. Let’s say you are a men’s skincare business. Some negative keywords that we could add to our “out-of-scope negative keyword list” could include: “womens skincare”, “skincare for women and men”, “best womens face wash”, etc. Since we only sell men’s skincare products, there are no situations where we would want to show up for users looking for women’s skincare products. We want to ensure that the keywords that trigger our ads to show are from people who are most likely to convert.
Use Automated Bidding To Ease Management and Improve Results
Once your campaigns begin to receive conversions, approximately 20 conversions per 30 days per campaign, you will be ready to switch to an automated bid strategy. We suggest using target ROAS or maximize conversion value, as these bidding strategies aim to maximize your profitability with Google shopping ads.
For Target ROAS, you simply tell Google Ads what your ROAS goal is, and Google Ads will try to achieve an average ROAS equal to your target across all campaigns using this strategy. Some conversions may return a higher ROAS and some may return a lower ROAS, but altogether Google Ads will try to keep your conversion value per cost equal to the target ROAS you set.
For Maximize Conversion Value, Google uses historical information about your campaign and evaluates the contextual signals present at auction-time. This bid strategy automatically finds an optimal CPC bid for your ad each time it's eligible to appear. Google will seek the conversions that are the most valuable for your campaign while spending your budget.
These automated bit strategies rely on Google’s algorithm and machine learning to increase visibility for the users that Google believes are more likely to convert, and to decrease visibility for those that Google believes are not likely to convert. Once you have sufficient conversion data, an automated bid strategy will not only see better performance than a manual bid strategy, but it will be significantly easier to manage.
Ensure Titles, Descriptions, and Product Type Are Optimized
Your product feed is what tells Google what types of searches that you want your shopping ads to appear for. If your product feed uses very broad and generic terms, then you are likely going to show up for very broad and generic terms. The more specific and relevant you can make your titles, descriptions, and product types - the more likely you will be to have immediate success with Google shopping ads.
A well-optimized product feed will reduce the need for adding negative keywords, and will also improve click-through rates and conversion rates over time.
When it comes to your product title, include the most important information first, such as the primary non-branded keyword that you want to show up for. You will also want to include supplemental information such as your brand name, the product qualifiers such as the size of the packaging quantity, the color, and anything else that would potentially be important to the user. Include the most important information at the front of the title and the least important information near the back. Here is an example of a well-optimized product title: “jalapeño bbq rub 1 pound bag, spicy blend of salt, pepper and jalapeño, [brand name] barbecue”.
Kosmo’s Q has well-optimized titles, putting the non-branded term near the front.
Here is an example of a poorly optimized title: 1 pound bag [brand name] BBQ jalapeño rub”. While the second title could end up working, the first title will maximize your chances of success.
These Meat Church product titles could likely use optimization.
When it comes to the description, add as much content that is relevant as your character space allows for. You have plenty of character space to work with here (5,000 characters), so try to pull as much relevant information from the website as possible. Lead with your most important information such as details about the product, the ingredients, and what makes it good, but also include information about your brand that makes you unique. If your products are homemade, made in America, made naturally, cruelty-free, gluten-free, etc. make sure that you are highlighting this information about yourself in your description.
Lastly, when it comes to your product type, these are to be treated as if they were keywords for search ads. To use the jalapeño barbecue rub example, your product type for this product could be “BBQ rubs > spicy barbecue rubs > jalapeño barbecue rubs > jalapeño seasoning > [brand name] barbecue seasoning”. These will help Google identify the types of searches that you want your shopping ads to appear for. We advise A/B. testing this over time, where you create additional product variations and adjust your product type to see the impact on your search terms.
While there are many more advanced tactics and strategies for optimizing your results with Google’s Standard Shopping campaigns, if you are able to: 1) add negative keywords to keep your search results relevant to your brand, 2) automate your bidding to take advantage of Google’s machine learning, and 3) make simple edits to your product feed to tell Google what you want your shopping ads to show up for; then you will be well on your way to seeing great results with Google Shopping.
Q&A: New Hire Training
While every business model is unique and the specific training topics may vary, clear and focused training should be a consistent priority.
Q: Curious if you spend most of the time during onboarding teaching new team members the technical "how to's” or talking about culture and expectations, or discovering places where they can add value.
1. The technical "how to's"
Yes - even if you don't have a really clear picture right away of the role, the more knowledge and training the better. Knowledge truly is power and if you want to grow, you need to share as much info as possible. The more your leadership and everyone else on your team understands about your structure and everything involved in the business, the better equipped they will be to bring ideas to the table that you don't have time to think of. Every team member that joins us shadows every role, regardless of what department they are part of. Account managers go through a lot of the same Google and Amazon training that specialists do, even though they aren't doing the implementation. We need everyone to have a comprehensive understanding so they can collaborate strategically, and they can't do that if they don't understand the roles and responsibilities of the rest of the team they’ve joined.
Admittedly, our onboarding used to be more like a push into the deep end, but it’s evolved into more of a zero entry, with a sudden drop off after learning how to swim. Our 6-8 week training system (based in the Google Classroom and Teamwork platforms) consists of:
- In-person sessions - this is the time-consuming part - try to minimize this as you develop your system by using the rest of this list
- Videos - find them online or make your own
- Online resources - certifications, training platforms, readings, blogs, podcasts
- Job shadowing - every role, anywhere from 2-4 hours each
- Call recordings - we record EVERY client call so have lots of good stuff for new team members to listen and learn from
- Observation docs & vlogs - we have new team members take notes that we review from every call they listen to or person they shadow so we can catch any misunderstandings. This also helps track their level of engagement, curiosity, and culture fit - we terminated someone within their first 30 days because it became clear they weren't a good fit for the role/team just by their notes and engagement in training. We also have a frequency of video blogs (vlogs) that they record, initially daily, then weekly, to give another avenue of feedback and confirmation that they are learning and engaged.
- Tag-teaming - instead of passive shadowing, after 4-6 weeks we move into hands-on, step-by-step tag-teaming of a new account with someone in their same role.
- Reverse shadowing - 6-8 weeks after joining the team, assigned a new account, with a more veteran partner shadowing to confirm processes and standards are understood and implemented. Repeat x3.
Curiosity makes it possible for anyone to work in digital marketing.
My development with OMG is a long story, but it all really boils down to the fact that the more I learned about what we do, even though I never actually DID any of it, the better equipped I was to make realistic budgets, develop realistic long-term hiring and growth plans, implement the vision of the owners, and develop the day-to-day operations and systems of the business. Brandi Johnston, our Director of Account Management and Head of Reporting, had never worked in SEO before joining our team 8 years ago and is now one of the most knowledgeable SEO professionals in the country, and is also incredibly knowledgeable about Amazon and Google because she is the type of person that wants to learn so she can best support her team. Chris Tyler, our Director of Amazon, had never done anything in digital marketing before joining our team 5 years ago and now is the visionary behind a department that grew 78% last year. Until recently, it seemed people found themselves involved in digital marketing more by accident than by intention. Early stages of agency or brand development is a great time to capitalize on that. As you grow you will find that you will require more prior knowledge/experience when hiring because your clients will require that level of expertise in their client team, but I miss when we could simply find the right personality and teach them everything they need to know (we still do this to build an internal bench, but can't anymore for the lead roles).
2. Talking about culture and expectations
Yes - we really immerse new team members in our culture during week one general OMG training, with a recap with me during week two. Then they're a part of it. In our organization, our culture is used as a decision-making tool and as our guideposts for everything we do, so it's really like living in a constant refresher once you get started. We immerse ourselves in reminders of our culture values, using our weekly team meetings, individual conversations, and group syncs as opportunities to recommit to the values and standards that are so valuable to our team.
Our entire training process is designed to establish expectations and standards. Throughout we’re discussing not just how we do things, but why. Actually, we’re better at the why. Because the platforms we work on change so quickly and frequently, it’s important to hire people who are tech-savvy enough to be able to figure out where to go to get the job done, and curious enough to ask if they can’t figure it out. But digging into the strategy and purpose behind the how, that’s the foundation of our training.
3. Discovering places where they can add value
Nope, not during onboarding.
During onboarding we want new team members to feel like we have a concrete plan as much as possible, even if we know that it could very likely change. It gives them a sense of security and confidence in what they're working towards so they can really focus as they go through training. It also takes time to see them at work to give us an idea of their full skill sets and interests.
This is my absolute favorite part of what I do. So many of OMG’s team members started in completely different positions, and a lot of them are now in roles that didn't even exist in our organization before they were created just for them. If someone is gravitating towards something, give them all the training resources and room to explore it as possible because if you can develop experts in areas that directly apply to your business, it's a win/win. They're living their best life doing what they love every day, and you're capitalizing on what they're best at. If you haven't read Nine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham, I highly recommend it. I strongly agree with him that a person will be the most satisfied and successful by living within their strengths rather than trying to work on their weaknesses, and the more you can discover those strengths and support the weaknesses, the more value you'll receive from each individual, making the whole department, team, and company better.
What’s the point?
Ultimately, the goal of our training process is to develop confidence in both our new team members and our established team who will now be trusting them with client work and communications, as well as reduce risk on the client side. The target is someone who not only fully understands the standards and expectations, but owns and values them the same way we do. We know we’ve succeeded when our team shares their experience working with new hires, by sharing kudos and client wins or providing feedback for training improvement.
What’s New on Amazon? Cutting Edge Features & Strategies for Q4 & Beyond
New betas have been rolling out under the radar on Amazon nearly every few days for the past several months making it challenging to know where to get started.
Based on previous years, spotting big changes to the Amazon selling platform during slower Q2 and Q3 months is nothing out of the ordinary. However, in 2021, we’re seeing more shiny new tools than ever before all being released in rapid succession. It almost seems as though Amazon put betas on the back burner in 2020 and kept numerous new releases in their toolbox until operations began to return to “normal” this year.
Overall, we’re seeing a lot of opportunity in these exciting new launches and are pumped to put them to the test. Here are some of the top new tools, strategies, and beta programs that can help you get an edge during Q4.
Brand Referral Bonus
Amazon sellers can now earn bonus commissions from driving traffic from off Amazon. According to Amazon, the average commission is 10% of sales generated from external traffic! Eligible brands will receive their bonus for qualified sales beginning in September.
Some may rightfully ask, “Why would I drive traffic to Amazon rather than your own site?” The bottom line is that Amazon loves external traffic that converts and rewards you with organic ranking in exchange for that traffic.
Google to Amazon Ads
Aside from being able to recoup some of your cost from the new Brand Referral Bonus program, if you are strategic, you can capitalize on opportunities where customers are more likely to purchase on Amazon. One of the key opportunities we’ve identified is driving traffic from Google directly to Amazon on relevant search phrases that include “Amazon” or “Prime”. This indicates that those individuals are specifically looking to purchase the product with their Prime membership and are less likely to purchase from your site.
During initial flights, we’ve found that CPC is significantly lower for Google to Amazon ads when compared to Sponsored Product ads. Plus, it gives brands a competitive advantage by enabling them to run a dedicated ad for their product rather than being lumped in among multiple competitors on Amazon landing pages dedicated to Google ad efforts. Since Amazon is Google’s #1 source of ad spend, this is a great starting point for testing off-Amazon spend that actually converts.
Sponsored Brand Video Product Targeting Segment
Recently, Amazon released product targeting under the radar for Sponsored Brand Video ads. With CPC on the rise, we are super excited to see another segment available for video-based ads. Not only can you set up defensive ads on your own product display page to block out the competition, but you can also target top competitors in a space many sellers aren’t even aware of yet. We see a lot of opportunity to split test various creatives showcasing the benefits and unique selling points that make your product stand out among the competition.
Sponsored Display Top of Funnel Audience Segments
Sponsored Display has also implemented new Top of Funnel segments, similar to DSP, including targeting options like “In Market” and “Lifestyle”. These can be a great way to push ads higher in the funnel to fuel your retargeting efforts on products which may not be eligible for DSP.
Sponsored Display Bidding Strategies
Sponsored Display ads have been making great strides this year in terms of flexibility and functionality. Amazon recently implemented new bidding strategies which include the options to “Optimize for page visits” or “Optimize for Conversions” giving you more control over whether you want to push for awareness or a stronger return.
Customer Engagement Beta
For those of you who have capitalized on the free traffic Amazon Posts offers, in addition to those posts now showing in additional placements including your storefront, they also have a new major benefit.
Sellers who have accumulated at least 500 brand followers from Amazon Posts can now access the Customer Engagement beta which allows sellers to email customers and highlight products. This can be a great additional strategy to implement and test during your next product launch.
You can access this beta in Seller Central or Vendor Central under “Brands” - “Customer Engagement”. If you have the required number of followers but don’t have access, reach out to your Amazon rep to request access.
Amazon’s new “Budget” Beta in the advertising console lets you review your budgets against key performance indicators to provide more clarity as to which campaigns will benefit from higher budgets. It also provides some super helpful projections such as how much you are estimated to lose in sales, impressions and clicks by not lifting budget. Additionally, it provides further insight into how much of a budget increase is recommended.
In addition to advanced budget reporting, the new “Budget Rules” beta within campaigns allows you to apply more advanced budget rules to your campaigns. While it doesn’t quite offer advanced dayparting options as some sellers may hope to see, it can be helpful for managing budgets on larger accounts during peak selling dates.
Creative Assets Beta
Another cool new feature Amazon has added to the advertising console is the “Creative Assets” tool. It enables sellers to upload creative assets including images and videos so that they can be easily stored, organized and filtered when creating new ad campaigns. Creatives stored here go through a moderation process and are reviewed so that they can be pre-approved and ready to go whenever you submit a new ad using that creative.
The new “Targeting” beta that is slowly being rolled out across accounts is an excellent way to deep dive into your targeting segments. The dashboard offers an easy to navigate, high-level overview of targeting performance and pinpoints underserved areas that may have potential to scale through increased bids.
Mobile Storefront Customization
With Amazon leading the industry with the most popular shopping app in mobile stores and consequently a massive amount of mobile sales, optimization of listings for mobile has always been highly important. That’s why we’re very excited to see that Amazon has now taken steps to enable sellers to optimize their Amazon storefront for mobile experiences.
In addition to customization for mobile storefronts, Amazon has also introduced a helpful new “Engagement” dashboard on “Storefront Insights” to provide more detail as to how consumers interact with your Amazon storefront.
Brand Catalog Manager
Thanks to the Brand Catalog Manager introduced by Amazon early this year, brand owners don’t have to be as reliant on expensive 3p tools to monitor unauthorized sellers. It does a fair job of identifying areas of opportunity and assigning the potential value next to each missed opportunity.
Overall, in 2021, we’ve seen Amazon stepping up their game and elevating the platform on the seller side. With new betas and features rolling out every few weeks, now is the time to start exploring what these new tools have to offer. Start running small tests now to determine which of these new features will have the greatest impact for your brand and how to maximize your efforts this year!
What Happened to Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime in 2021?
Sellers have become increasingly concerned about the repercussions of losing the Amazon Prime badge. To help clear up some of the confusion, we synced with top FBM sellers.
With a heavy, longstanding reliance on the Amazon Prime badge for improved conversion rate and sales velocity, changes to Amazon’s Seller Fulfilled Prime program have left both seasoned sellers and novices concerned about how to adapt and thrive with Amazon’s changing fulfillment practices. To help clear up some of the confusion, we’ve synced with some of the top FBM sellers on Amazon, whose primary business models were largely reliant on SFP…until this year. Here’s what we found out:
What is the current status of SFP?
- SFP is still running in a limited capacity and Amazon will not disclose definitive details regarding its status or timeline.
- Despite the SFP waitlist page still being live, Amazon is not actively looking to expand its’ SFP Program or add new brands.
- Amazon continues to make regular changes and add more restrictions that make it increasingly difficult to meet requirements over the past several months.
- The working theory among top sellers is that Amazon is continuously pushing the boundaries on restrictions until the program becomes obsolete.
What should you do about the changes to SFP?
- Continue filling FBM orders on your own, but work on offering competitive shipping timelines.
- If you are still enrolled in the SFP program, keep oversize items or other items that are still eligible and have supporting margins in SFP as long as it makes sense.
- Given the widespread change and consumers adapting to the change, you shouldn’t be as concerned if you lose the Amazon Prime badge or SFP eligibility.
Is there an alternative program in the works?
- Despite rumors that SFP was being replaced with a more stringent program, there has been no official confirmation that another program will take over.
What are some tips or recommendations as a workaround for not having the Prime badge?
- Treat your FBM listings just as you would FBA listings. Optimize your listing title, bullets, description, and backend keywords. Add enhanced A+ Content and link the product to your storefront.
- Ensure reviews are in place and are being carefully monitored.
- Applying a full-funnel advertising strategy to healthy, optimized listings with fast shipping to drive awareness and sales can be very effective in scaling your FBM products.
What are some recommendations on inexpensive, fast 3P fulfillment centers or fulfillment options that are more cost effective than FBA?
- Popular 3P Fulfillment services like Deliverr often cost just as much as FBA depending on the product and won’t work as an alternative to FBA.
- Instead, they are optimal for multi-channel fulfillment and are ideal for companies that sell products that are suitable for FBA, but are available on a large number of channels.
- Instead, search for a more personalized fulfillment center that is designed for FBM profitability and is centrally located for fast shipping.
- If you are fulfilling orders yourself, work with your courier to negotiate discounted freight rates on faster shipping methods and improve your FBM margins even further.
What are some additional things to look out for with the changes to SFP during 2021?
- Amazon adds a handling day and you can’t take that day off unless it is Prime with FBA or SFP, so be aware that this can be factored into estimated delivery dates.
What are some positive changes that have occurred with the adjustments to SFP?
- After testing both with SFP and without in 2021, many sellers are finding that the Prime badge is not nearly as important as it used to be in order to excel on Amazon with FBM in terms of conversion rate and impact to volume.
- Since many sellers could not sustain SFP anymore starting this year after changes were made, consumers are beginning to adapt.
- At this time, most shoppers now seem to be opting for fast shipping rather than a Prime badge, so what’s really important is offering fast shipping options and not having stock issues with delayed ship dates.
What are some top tips for winning Self-Fulfilled Shipping on Amazon in 2021?
- If your cost to offer 2-day shipping cuts too far into your margin, add it to the list price.
- Sellers are finding that people rarely notice the additional cost as long as it is not itemized separately as “Shipping”.
- Consumers are programmed to look at the shipping date and not the price.
- When adjusting your prices to accommodate fast shipping, your biggest concern should be that your offer is winning the buy box.
- If you have your own brand registered private label and products with no 3p sellers, the heightened price will not cause any concern unless you are selling under the same UPC off Amazon at a lower price.
- When it comes to winning buy box, also ensure that you have enough product on hand to keep the product “in stock” and avoid drastic fluctuations in BSR from out of stock items.
With rumors circulating throughout 2021 regarding the future of Seller Fulfilled Prime, sellers have become increasingly concerned about the repercussions of losing the Amazon Prime badge. Despite the importance of the Prime badge being a constant for many years, since the changes and effects are widespread, SFP’s transformation seems to be working out for sellers. Fortunately, the marketplace and consumers appear to be quickly adjusting and adopting new shopping behaviors. Favoring fast shipping over a Prime badge is quickly becoming the new norm.
You’ve hired… Now what?
A team member’s first day is their first impression on your organization, priorities, and communication. Emphasize expectations with your actions, not just words.
Question: I'm curious to know what your recommendations are related to onboarding. From the article I read, it sounds like you have a really solid process laid out, and you try to give really clear expectations for their first day. I wanted to hear a bit more.
OMG’s Onboarding Process
Templates are key when it comes to increasing efficiency and effectiveness. Every time we go through a new team member onboarding (employee or freelancer), we use our templates while also critically evaluating them for necessary updates and making those changes as we go. Each of these templates gets tweaked a bit for remote or freelance team members.
New Hire Email Templates
1. Subject Line: OMG - It’s almost time!
Sent to their personal email 4-5 days in advance of their first day, this email provides new team members with details such as:
- Detailed first-day schedule - Since they won’t have access to their calendar until after they arrive, we give them a breakdown of their first day so they know what meetings to expect and how their non-scheduled time will be used.
- First-month schedule/expectations - We have a unique culture of high standards and best practices that facilitates a very independent day-to-day experience for team members. Sometimes that flexibility causes anxiety when a previous experience was structured and rigid. Informing new team members that they will be expected to create their own schedule while also explaining that their first 90 days will be the easiest of their career with OMG helps set the tone of interdependent autonomy.
- Lunch and dress code expectations - These are (local) new employee’s front-of-mind, first-day questions. Having an answer reduces the stress and anxiety of the first-day “how do they do things” unknowns.
- Ask them a few get-to-know-you questions and request a photo that we can use for a Slack intro to the rest of the team.
Basically, this is a FAQ email to make them confident walking (or calling) into the first day. The feedback we received was that the addition of this email to our onboarding process was life-changing for new hires.
2. Remote Team Members Only: Your OMG Login Info
This email is sent early in the morning on the first day for remote team members. This provides them with their email and password so they can sign in and get started. For local team members, this information is provided in person when we hand them their laptop.
3. Subject Line: 🏁 🏁 Start Here 🏁 🏁
This email gets sent to their OMG email address for them to read on their first day. It gives them:
- Access to our team contact info sheet
- My cell phone number
- Introduces their training coordinator
- Provides links to our core platforms and tools with a brief description of the purpose/use of each (TPM, OMG Wiki, Drive, Calendar, Slack)
In order to provide a streamlined experience for new team members, it is important to develop a consistent process that allows new team members to get set up and connected with the various team members that will support their onboarding. This checklist should include tasks for everyone involved in onboarding, including Finance, HR, IT, Admin, and Leadership. The checklist should function in a way that prepares the team for a new member’s first day, giving them what they need, when they need it, without needing to ask. Our new employee onboarding task list includes over 65 tasks, which might seem excessive, BUT consider that those 65+ items need to be done for every single new hire, and several of them would easily be forgotten or delayed if there wasn’t a trigger. The creation of an onboarding process and checklist does take intention and time, but saves much more time than it takes, and makes the process seamless and stress-free for everyone involved. This process continues to evolve and requires updates as the company grows, but it is much easier to add or update a task as needed than to work through an outdated list.
Having a structured first day (week, month) is one of the best ways to help new team members feel established and productive. If you’re hiring the right people, they will be antsy to get in and start working, whatever that looks like. Without a plan, this is difficult to implement when every other member of the team already has a full-time job they’re focused on! Developing a first-day routine supports both the new team member and team members involved in onboarding with consistent expectations.
Sample schedule - We always start new team members on Mondays so that they can be a part of the weekly team meeting. The template may need to be customized based on role and schedule, whether remote or local, and italicized sections.
- 9am - Arrive at the office! Name, our Office Manager, will show you to your desk and where you can grab some coffee before our first meeting of the day.
- 9:30am - Whole-team meeting. No need to be nervous, this is a weekly meeting and a great way to launch this new chapter of your life with OMG. This is typically a 15-20 minute meeting.
- 10am - Office tour and HR paperwork and payroll platform training with Name, our HR Coordinator.
- 11am - Initial Check-In with your Director, Name.
- 12pm - First Day lunch - Our treat! We will be ordering lunch in and eating with our Department/Roles! If you have any diet restrictions or favorites, please let us know.
- 1pm - Flex time - Dig into your email, review your calendar events, and take some time to get to know the team!
- 4pm - Feel free to hang out a while longer or get home and take a brain break. It's a lot of info for the first day!
A hard day’s work...
A new team member’s first day is their first impression on your organization, priorities, and communication. Details matter, and the unspoken messages sent leading up to and during the first day informs new team members of your real expectations. Whether it’s using these steps or others, make sure you’re emphasizing expectations with your actions, not just your words.